Luke Armstrong | Aug 17, 2017
Maybe you're a father and you finally convinced your wife to take the family to Mexico. Or maybe you're a mother and have finally convinced your husband that you and the family should go to Bangladesh for the summer. Maybe you're a priest leading
a mission trip. Perhaps you're a professor leading a student group. Could be you and your buddies are going to use student loan money to go on spring break in Cancun. Whatever the situation, if you are responsible for a group,
or are the "responsible one" in a group, before you take a trip anywhere, one of the most important parts of planning the trip is ensuring you and your people are insured for anything.
Over the years, I've been responsible for mission trips, planned family excursions, and as co-owner of a tour company, have been responsible for the safety of paying clients on their trip of a lifetime.
In this article I will outline what you might want to think about when looking into insurance for group travel.
With group travel, you can often purchase travel insurance at a discount when you buy as a group. So before you go through the online check-out process for each member of your group, be sure to speak with an agent from the insurance company to inquire about discounts that might apply to your circumstances.
Insurance for Family Groups
If you and your family already have medical insurance do you need to purchase travel medical insurance? In most cases, yes. The insurance your family has at home likely won't offer the same coverage abroad. You'll have to check with your individual provider for the exact details of what's covered.
I come from a family of nine siblings, so I know from experience that coordinating schedules of so many people is grueling. When we were kids, it was easy—our parents just loaded us into a twelve passenger van and away we went.
Since our coming of age, we have taken international trips to Mexico, Italy, Greece, and this summer we're Belize bound. With so many schedules liable to change, we are getting trip protection insurance in case we end up needing to alter our itinerary.
The cost of trip protection insurance is minimal, but the peace of mind is essential. It avoids the arguments of one person's change of plan not costing the rest of us money to accommodate that change.
Insurance Considerations for Tour Companies and Tour Guides
Like my own company, most tour companies make their clients sign waivers for any and every event. Good waivers are airtight. In the case of something on the trip going wayward, it protects the company from damages.
However, this is no reason to let your clients travel with you without purchasing travel insurance. Frankly, it's just crazy to lead anyone anywhere unless you've covered your initial bases like protecting them as much as you can from any and everything that could occur. Travel insurance and travel medical insurance need not cost your company if you make it your policy that clients purchase it in order to travel with you.
In my tour company, Expeditioner Tours, we require all our clients to purchase a Liaison Majestic policy with Seven Corners.
We "make" our clients do this for three primary reasons. First, to protect our company against damages in the event of a medical emergency, political upheaval, or natural disaster. If something were ever to go to court, we can produce not just our waiver, but also a policy that does everything in its power to protect our clients.
Second, we make them all buy the same policy because it's a policy we know how to navigate. Rather than say you must have travel insurance, we say you must buy this travel insurance policy. It's a policy we colleagues know how to navigate. The last thing you want to do in an emergency is navigating through an unfamiliar policy from an unknown company.
Lastly, we do this because it's the ethical thing to do. Technically, given your waiver and legal counsel, your waiver might be enough. But just because our butts our covered is no reason not to fully protect our clients. We don't want to imagine a situation where a client with a medical problem who can't afford medical care is out of luck.
Travel Insurance for a your company, for a sports team, school trip, NGO, missionary group, etc.
The reasons to insure such groups are the same as above—the cost is minimal and the risks of not insuring your group are immense from both an ethical and legal standpoint.
With a group you can take advantage of group rates. Seven Corners offers discounts for any non-family group of five or more people.
Earn a Commission When Your Group Buys Travel Insurance
There could be a financial advantage for your large group purchasing travel insurance. Many insurance companies will set you up as a sales associate for them if you are continually bringing them business.
While my own tour company is too small at this point for us to bother working out something like this, down the road we plan to set this up. However, we do not plan to keep any of the money earned from this for ourselves.
We will operate this way because, otherwise it could look like a conflict of interest. As part of our policy we require all of our clients to buy travel insurance. If they were to discover that we were earning based on this obligatory purchase of travel insurance, they might question our motivations.
In order to eliminate this, we plan to donate anything earned to charity. This fits great with our model since our company is already set up to donate a portion of our profits to The Integral Heart Foundation to support their mission of providing impoverished Guatemalan children with a compelling education. In this way, group travel insurance can not only offer protection and peace of mind for your group, it can help make the world a better place!
Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.